Between Their World and Ours: Breakthroughs with Autistic Children

Between Their World and Ours: Breakthroughs with Autistic Children

by Karen Zelan
     
 

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Autism has reached epidemic proportions. The latest studies suggest that as many as one in 150 children ages ten and younger may be affected by autism---a total of 300,000 children in the United States alone. Adults included, there are more than a million people in the United States suffering from autistic disorders. Since autism has had a bleak prognosis, and

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Overview

Autism has reached epidemic proportions. The latest studies suggest that as many as one in 150 children ages ten and younger may be affected by autism---a total of 300,000 children in the United States alone. Adults included, there are more than a million people in the United States suffering from autistic disorders. Since autism has had a bleak prognosis, and since the isolation of autistic children is so painful to parents, Karen Zelan's accounts of her breakthroughs with autistic children in Between Their World and Ours present a particularly hopeful perspective. Zelan illustrates how diagnostic labels reflect the preconceptions and prejudices of the diagnostician, but reveal nothing about the unique person who carries the label and his potential as a human being.

Describing nine of the forty-five autists with whom she has worked, Zelan documents how psychotherapy with autistic youth helps them to overcome their problems in communicating, playing, feeling, thinking, and interacting with people more companionably. Her riveting narratives, showing her growing understanding of her young patients, capture how it is to be autistic. She describes the ways these young people meet the challenges of being the way the are. Her work demonstrates how the social context in which autistic children find themselves can make a significant difference in their development, their self-esteem, and their ability to think through problems in living.

Zelan, a gifted and intuitive psychotherapist, shows how the autist's sense of self emerges during childhood. She details how these autistic children's first friendships originate, the pitfalls and pleasures they experience in relating to their peers, their dreams, and their fears of social contact. These real-life stories reveal what worked with autistic children and why. Zelan offers prescriptive suggestions for parents and teachers based on her discoveries, demonstrating humane ways of dealing with the often troubling problems of autism and of closing the gap between their world and ours.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This book provides excellent insights for mentoring elementary school-age children and teenagers with Asperger's or high-functioning autism.” —Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports from My Life with Autism

“Essential reading for all parents and teachers of autistic children... Dr. Zelan's work with autistic patients is a model for all good psychotherapy.” —Elio Frattaroli, M.D., author of Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain: Why Medication Isn't Enough

“Dr. Zelan shows an amazing insight into why autistic people think and feel the way they do; she is to autistic people what Jane Goodall was for the wild chimpanzees.” —Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D., author of Aquamarine Blue 5: Personal Stories of College Students with Autism

“A sensitive book about the many challenges facing parents, teachers, and, yes, those with autism. A worthy read, and inspiring.” —David L. Holmes, Ed.D., President and Executive Director, The Eden Family of Services

Publishers Weekly
Despite modern's medicine many stunning advances, autism remains very much a mystery; here, psychotherapist Zelan, who has spent years working with autistic children, tries to shed some much-needed light on the subject. A disorder with myriad different manifestations, autism is often characterized by "indifference or rejection of social contact," which makes treatment all the more challenging. Zelan shares her experiences of what works and what doesn't, and tries to offer hope for overwhelmed and confused parents. Stimulating children through music or games can work, for instance, where using reason or discipline might not. Zelan can't offer any blanket prescriptions, because unfortunately, none exist; the best parents can hope for is to respect different understandings of reality, and to adapt therapy for each child. Zelan skillfully meshes complex theory and poignant stories and tackles the many issues of autism with admirable grace. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Believing that Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) children can communicate and that parents need to listen to their needs, psychotherapist Zelan recounts breakthroughs via psychological therapies. Much of her evidence comes from eight intertwined and interesting case studies of ASD children. While she makes valuable points to support her theory, there are numerous issues with this book. First, she relies on old case studies dating back to the 1960s when the definition of ASD was far narrower than today. Second, she makes connections between actions and meanings that are difficult to believe: a child who says "no painting," for example, is viewed as saying "no pain." Third, Zeland cites and praises the autism work of her teacher, Bruno Bettelheim, whose 1967 book, The Empty Fortress, blamed autism on unloving parents. For autism, it would be similar to boasting about one's accounting training at Arthur Anderson. A better choice for a psychological examination of ASD might be Steven Gutstein's Autism/Aspergers: Solving the Relationship Puzzle. Despite its problems, Between Their World and Ours is recommended for academic libraries with comprehensive autism collections.-Corey Seeman, Univ. of Toledo Libs., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312313760
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
09/01/2004
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
452
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.99(d)

Meet the Author

Karen Zelan was trained in psychoanalytic milieu therapy at the University of Chicago's Orthogenic School. She served as a senior staff supervising psychologist at Boston Children's Hospital Medical Center and as a Harvard Medical School instructor in the department of psychiatry. She has written extensively on children's learning and is the coauthor, with Bruno Bettelheim, of On Learning to Read. She is a psychotherapist to troubled youth in Berkeley, California, where she resides with her husband. Her son and daughter, now grown, live nearby.

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